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hospitality industry urges new ni finance minister and chancellor to back the sector
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Hospitality industry urges new NI Finance Minister and Chancellor to back the sector

Hospitality Ulster and UKHospitality has called on Northern Ireland’s new Finance Minister to guarantee that business rates relief monies given by Westminster will be ring-fenced for hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland in the upcoming Spring Statement. Launching a three-point plan to support hospitality, the two organisations welcomed the restoration of Stormont however urged the new NI Finance Minister and Chancellor to support and invest in the local sector. Non-domestic rates are the biggest threat to the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland, with businesses burdened with higher rates per pound compared to similar businesses elsewhere in the UK. Business owners have highlighted that the additional cash allocated to Northern Ireland under the Barnett Consequential for the 75% rates holiday in 2023/2024 was absorbed into the budget ‘black hole’ rather than being passed on to the struggling hospitality businesses it was intended for. With the Chancellor extending the business rates relief scheme for retail, hospitality, and leisure until 2025, the local hospitality sector is urging the UK government to mirror the scheme in Northern Ireland to allow businesses to survive, evolve and adapt to changing financial challenges. Hospitality Ulster and UKHospitality are also lobbying the Chancellor to support the industry with a cap on business rates, a temporary cut in National Insurance and a lower rate of VAT for hospitality, leisure, and tourism. Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster, said: “It’s encouraging to see the restoration of our power-sharing institutions as well as ministers in place to make timely decisions to stabilise our economy and invest in the hospitality sector. “Supporting businesses must be a priority and top of the new Northern Ireland Executive’s agenda. It is now time to use this vibrant industry to generate real revenue and kick start our economy, but for this to happen, we need urgent support and investment from the government. “We realise the new executive has many challenges in paying for public services, but their actions cannot be all about public services whilst ignoring businesses and jobs in the private sector, especially when our most recent industry survey shows that more than half of hospitality businesses are pessimistic about the next 12 months, and 18% saying their business is at risk of failure in the next year. “This is all set against a backdrop where businesses in Larne are paying 62p in the pound in rates while businesses in the City of London pay just 52p in the pound. If businesses go to the wall, we are clear that there will be less money to sustain our public services. “The executive needs to make sure that this crucial support in the form of rate relief goes straight to the people it was meant for to keep their doors open. At the same time, we will continue to work with our sister organisation UKHospitality and make the case for the Chancellor to invest in hospitality.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality, added: “Hospitality businesses are under intense pressure from rising costs in every direction and support is absolutely essential to ensuring businesses survive. The additional funds allocated to Northern Ireland under the Barnett consequential should absolutely be ringfenced for hospitality venues to receive business rates support. “We fully support Hospitality Ulster’s ask of the new Northern Ireland Executive and we’re continuing to work closely together to make the case to the Chancellor for further measures, including a VAT cut, in the Budget next month.”

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